Alibi V.13 No.3 • Jan 15-21, 2004 

Music Magnified

The Blind Boys of Alabama

The Blind Boys of Alabama
The Blind Boys of Alabama

Saturday, Jan. 17; The Lensic Performing Arts Center (Santa Fe, all ages, 7:30 p.m.): Regardless of your take on its lyrical content, gospel music is one of the most affecting musical genres in existence. Deeply religious and secular audiences alike can find themselves spellbound by the sheer power of a gritty, molasses hued gospel voice, and none are more powerful than those possessed by The Blind Boys of Alabama. Founded in 1939 by Clarence Fountain at Alabama's Talladega Institute for the Blind, membership has fluctuated during the past six-odd decades, but the spine-tingling quality of three- and four-part harmony has remained constant.

Fountain and longtime members Jimmy Carter and George Scott, along with more recent addition Joey Williams comprise the current incarnation of The Blind Boys, and their latest album, a Christmas affair titled Go Tell It on the Mountain (RealWorld), features some of the world's most acclaimed musicians, and incorporates material from songwriters as diverse as Tom Waits and Mavis Staples. Producer John Chelew handpicked bassist Danny Thompson (Everything But The Girl), guitarist Duke Robillard, and organist John Medeski for the project, instantly paving the way for a world-class recording.

The holidays may be over, but the Blind Boys of Alabama have over 60 years-worth of material to mine for their concerts, which are always miraculous no matter what the season. You don't want to miss these guys.